Fulbright — The first reject… and the hardest (3/3)

The email dropped like a bomb. I was in the middle of a meeting, my phone lit up and as soon as I saw “Fulbright” I knew what it meant, the answer was here. I casually opened the email . It was long and it didn’t have any big sentence or anything highlighted. Moreover, the first sentence did not say congratulations. This wasn’t good. I read it really fast and then slowly. I closed the email and continued my meeting.

  • You need to include two more screens — I explained to the analyst — one for the approval and another one to visualize the historical data.

I continued. I did not show any signs of anger or disappointment. I was just there. Actually, it amazed me how my body was able to work in autopilot.

I reopened the email, read it once again.

  • Please, confirm the reception of this mail. — It said at the end
  • Confirmed. Thank you for the opportunity. — I wrote back

The oddest part was that I was not sad. I was not happy, either. I was just… there, like an empty shell.

I had been rejected before. Well, not academically, that was a first. But we all have a first, don’t we? I knew that was a possibility. I needed to move on. They could not appreciate what they had in front of them. It would not affect me. It was their lost. I was fine, I was terrific…

I got home that night and I took my laptop. That same night I applied to the Erasmus Mundus and Chevening programs. I was going to do that master.

And then, the questions started:

  • Have you got an answer?
  • No. I have not. I don’t know when I will get it. I am still waiting… — I kept answering. I lied.

Why did I lie? I was worried. I was worried about the people who wrote me recommendation letters. I was worried they thought they had made a wrong choice when they agreed to help me. I was worried that everyone else started to think that I was dumb.

At the end of the day, despite the endearing email I received with the rejection, the only thing that kept lingering on my mind was:

You are not good enough.

When you are not good enough in the one thing you want to be good at, it hurts.

It hurt: getting the email, answering the questions, lying and doing it all over again.


However, at the end, it was worthy.

If you want something enough, it is supposed to hurt. Channel that. Use it as fuel to do it again, to do it better, to prove them you won’t give up that easy.

I did not have to lie. I gladly discovered that the people who helped me were more than happy to do it again (and again). The ones around me encouraged me to go on.

At the end, not at the beginning, certainly not in the middle, but at the end, I realised that if you are “not good enough” then you just need to try harder, do it again, do it better, do it until you get it.

Let the games begin.
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